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Tetrapod Zoology

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    Darren Naish Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK). He mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs but has an avid interest in all things tetrapod. His publications can be downloaded at He has been blogging at Tetrapod Zoology since 2006. Check out the Tet Zoo podcast at! Follow on Twitter @TetZoo.
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  • Today marks NINE YEARS of Tetrapod Zoology

    Have you heard about the new tapir? Now available on merchandise...

    Yet again, it’s January 21st and, yet again, Tetrapod Zoology is another year old. As of today, Tet Zoo has been going for nine years. I’ve discovered that children (should you produce and raise them) are a good means by which you can plot the swift burning away of your short time on the planet*. [...]

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    A brief introduction to reed, sedge and lily frogs

    Hyperolius viridiflavus, photographed in the Democratic Republic of Congo by Nick Hobgood. Image CC BY-SA 3.0.

    Here’s a very brief article to a group of frogs. It’s a slightly modified version of an article that initially appeared on Tet Zoo ver 2 during November 2007. Reed, sedge and lily frogs, or hyperoliids, are a moderately large group (containing approximately 215 species) of mostly arboreal ranoids that climb in vegetation at or [...]

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    It’s the Helmeted water toad… this time, with information!

    C. gayi, drawn from a photo. Illustration by Darren Naish.

    Back in October 2007 (at Tet Zoo ver 2) I wrote a very brief article on a poorly known, gigantic, deeply weird South American frog: the Helmeted water toad, Chilean giant frog or Gay’s frog* Calyptocephalella gayi (long known – incorrectly it turns out – as Caudiverbera caudiverbera). Back in 2007, so little information was [...]

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    ‘Strange bedfellow frogs’ (part I): rotund, adorable brevicipitids

    Breviceps frogs are not exactly the ideal shape for normal amplexus. This is B. montanus. Photo by Abu Shawka, in the public domain.

    Suddenly and unexpectedly, I have the urge to write about frogs. Today we look briefly at the first of two behaviourally peculiar, anatomically surprising groups, both of which are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, both of which belong to a major neobatrachian frog clade called Allodapanura, and both of which have been united in a clade [...]

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    There is so much more to flying frogs than flying frogs

    Beautiful painting of Wallace's flying frog (Rhacophorus nigropalmatus) by the unique Carel Brest van Kampen.

    Episode 2 of David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies appeared on TV the other day, and I watched it (in fact, I livetweeted throughout, mostly because I wanted to talk about their portrayal of pterosaurs and Mesozoic theropods). And hence I have rhacophorid frogs on my mind – the mostly tropical Afro-Asian frog group that [...]

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    Frogs you may not have heard of: Brazil’s Cycloramphus ‘button frogs’

    Things are not looking good for many of the Cycloramphus species. This is is C. boraceiensis. Photo (c) Ariovaldo Giaretta, CC BY-SA 2.5.

    The world is full of frogs, and while I’ve made reasonable efforts over Tet Zoo’s nearly nine years of operation to cover some of this diversity (see the links at the bottom of this article), there are many groups that I’ve never even mentioned. Today I want to talk about the Cycloramphus ‘button frogs’, the [...]

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    Gladiatorial glassfrogs, redux

    The same individual as that shown above, photographed 31 hours after a fight, and with injuries visible on his dorsal surface. Images from Hutter et al. (2013).

    Readers with supernaturally good memories might remember the two articles, published here back in January and February 2013, on glassfrogs, a highly unusual and poorly known group of Neotropical frogs, so named due to their incredible translucent or transparent ventral skin. Glassfrogs (properly: Centrolenidae) are weird and fascinating for all sorts of reasons (if you [...]

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    Tadpole nests, past and present

    Modern impressions made by tadpoles, photographed in a drainage ditch in Tennessee in 1958, from Maher (1962). A pipe serves as a scale.

    Thanks to that recent Tet Zoo article about American spadefoot toads and their tadpoles, I’ve had visions in my mind of drying ephemeral pools in hot, arid environments, crammed with crowded, gasping tadpoles. All are racing to complete metamorphosis before what remains of the water is finally gone… It’s a sad scene, replayed annually in [...]

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    North American spadefoot toads and their incredible fast-metamorphosing, polymorphic tadpoles

    There are essentially NO creative common images depicting spadefoot toad cannibalism (what the hell?), so I had to create my own. This images (based on various photos) depicts a cannibalistic encounter between a carnivore-morph Spea tadpole and an omnivore-morph one. Image by Darren Naish.

    Time for more spadefoot toads (that is, members of the anuran clade Pelobatoidea or Anomocoela). This time, we’re going to look at the two North American spadefoot toad genera (Spea and Scaphiopus). Like megophryids (the horned spadefoot toads discussed in the previous article) these have, conventionally, been classified as part of the Old World spadefoot [...]

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    Megophrys: so much more than Megophrys nasuta

    Profile of M. nasuta by O. Leillinger, photo CC BY-SA 3.0.

    In the previous article, we looked at parsley frogs or pelodytids – a small and conservative lineage within the anuran clade Pelobatoidea (also known as Anomocoela, and commonly as the spadefoot toads). Parsley frogs are very nice, but they’re dull compared to certain other pelobatoid lineages, especially the (sometimes) rather spectacular megophryids (or megophryines) of [...]

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